It’s fair to say we had a big agenda of travel in 2018; more tours than ever before, from cruises, to train rides and bus trips, our solo travellers pretty much experienced it all.
Our tour hosts were with our guests every step of the way, making sure the tours ran smoothly, keeping our guests company and just, well, having a great time alongside you all.
And while every moment on tour is amazing, there are always moments that stand out above all others. So we asked our tour hosts about their tours last year and here are their responses: our favourite travel moments of 2018.
Tour: South Africa
For me it was the moment I saw our guests in the open-sided 4-wheel-drive surrounded by elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana. I was in the 4-wheel-drive behind. It was one of those surreal travel moments where you pinch yourself and think; “is this really happening”? I will never forget the look of sheer joy on their faces.
One of the highlights from my tour in 2018 was our walk to a local village in the mid Atlas Mountains. Our guide met these people about a year ago when he was hiking through the area and developed a friendship with them. It was about a 40 minute walk from our overnight stay – through farmland, across small irrigation channels, past an abandoned feed storage stone building and a few sparse farm houses to get to their village. Children play with an old car tyre by letting it run down the hill and chasing it, or doing forward somersaults into a soft dirt area.
Three generations live together in a humble mud brick house, complete with chickens and so on in their yard. The family turned on an absolute feast for afternoon tea complete with mint tea (of course), wafer biscuits, home made stone ground flat bread with butter and jam, and a selection of other home made cakes! I’m not sure who was more impressed with the visit… us or them. A great time was had by all.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to cruise around remote islands surrounded by crystal clear waters teeming with life, an abundance of swaying palm trees that outline the iridescent blue sky with not another tourist in sight… except for fellow Two’s a Crowd passengers? Fiji is just such a place. As we cruised around the islands we were serenaded by the gorgeous voices of our crew whose words and dance moves took us on a journey through their culture. We were welcomed by local communities and experienced their lifestyle, on their island, not from a resort. The children’s faces beamed as they guided us through their school a harmonious choir entertained us with hip wriggly dance moves – which bought laughter to us all when we attempted the moves. (What happens on tour stays on tour…no photos/videos of this one)
But some of the most amazing scenery of this trip was all under the water. The supermarket dive was just that, a picking of fish and coral that took your breath away. If diving wasn’t your thing you could see just as much from the glass bottom boat or snorkelling off the island. Then if you felt more adventurous grab a stand-up board, kayak or put on your walking shoes and go for a hike to see the local fauna and flora on the way up to some of the most beautiful views across the islands. This is where you take a breath, pinch yourself and feel grateful that you can travel.
I’d hosted Vietnam before and been to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a living museum to the Vietnam War and the amazing underground “road” system built by the Vietcong, but in the past when we’d asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to jump in one of the holes, everyone stood back. Too nervous to be the first.
Not on this tour.
Brenda soon distinguished herself as the adventuress in the group, putting her hand up before our guide had barely even finished uttering the words.
Minutes later she would run through the underground tunnels as far as she could go, amazing us all with her bravery and entertaining us by popping her head up at each entrance and saying a quick hello before heading into the next tunnel.
And that’s one of the things I love about travel, every experience is just a little different and every tour is unique.
I have very special memories of witnessing the majestic beauty of Glacier Bay while cruising through Alaska in May.
We had gathered on the upper deck of our ship, The Nieuw Amsterdam, some had a steaming coffee others clutched a camera in gloved hands as we crawled past sheer cliffs of ice that glistened and sparkled in the afternoon sun.
It was a highlight when we moored in the giant shadow of Margerie Glacier to silently observe her greatness in the fading light; occasionally a deafening crack rang out, as another massive chunk of ice broke away and crashed into the ocean. To hear and see the glaciers calving trumps any documentary I’ve ever seen and is an experience that will stay with me forever.
Just like a beautiful sunset where every frame is different, being surrounded by this dynamic land mass reminds us of the fragility of nature. If you want to experience this privilege before it disappears better move it to the top of your bucket list.